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Thursday, July 19, 2012

Hitchhike on a plane

When I got to the Chamberlin Ranger Station there wasn't any Ranger around, but the cabin was open. I had sent a box of supplies there that I was going to need for the next section. I figured they must be out on a hike, and would be back later. So I went back to hang out with a pilot who I had passed on the way to the cabin. He was from Helena and flew to the back country once a week to stay the night and do a little hiking. Just like a little more remote car camping trip. He volunteered to go back to the ranger station cabin the next morning to help me look for the ranger. So we had a nice evening under the wing of his plane talking about trips and travels. He made me add get a pilots license to things that I need to do. The freedom and direction you can go is just amazing.
The next morning there was still no sign of the ranger. I was out of food, and not sure when they would show up. It was 12 miles to the nearest trail head, and that was 50 miles from the nearest paved road. The pilot was flying back to Helena that morning and the evening before had offered me a lift if I was interested. With still no sign of the ranger, I decided to go for it. It wasn't the right direction and I wasn't sure what I would do there, but at least it would be a city. So I hitched a ride on his plane.
It was a quick hour flight, over the main Salmon, around the Bitterroots, over the Pintners, past Anaconda and into Helena. It was pretty cool.
And we landed at the grass strip he had in front of his house. He had a hanger that he parked his the plane next to the Piper Cub he had built himself. Next to his hanger was his wife's hanger and she was a flight instructor. She heard him land and came out to say hi and was surprised by me being there. She said I must be hungry and made eggs and pancakes. Then she said I probably want a shower too, it had been 9 days so I'm sure it was pretty obvious. It felt great to have such generosity. I managed to use airline miles to get a flight out that day to Boise to stay with Mallory for a couple days. He took me to the airport in the '64 VW Beetle he had restored himself. It was a great way to get out of the middle of the wilderness.

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